Jeremy Corbyn has been overwhelmingly elected as leader of the Labour party. Scotland was already skiting along on the ice road to independence, through the cold Tory winter, but Corbyn’s victory puts it on a jet ski. Independence here we come. You might think, if you were a semi-literate Labour MSP, that the Jezzajism of British politics would restore the fortunes of the Labour party in Scotland, and his victory would be the best thing to happen to that sorry branch office since John McTernan said he was flitting to Australia. Sadly, you’d be as mistaken as a McTernan, and that’s pretty mistaken indeed.
Jeremy Corbyn has given hope to thousands of people on the left in England, and in Scotland we must welcome anything that drags Labour out of its hellish cohabitation with neo-conservatism, privatisation, and the creeping criminalisation of protest. Over the past few decades, Labour has sought power by adopting the rhetoric and politics of the right, so when it has gained power all it has done is disappoint and betray because there was little or nothing to distinguish it from the bogeymen it claimed to be protecting us from. As the party’s rightward drift continued, it turned into those bogeymen that Labour was founded to fight against.
The other week Gordie Broon was citing Keir Hardie, the founder of Labour, as his greatest hero. Keir would not return the sentiment, if he came back from the dead his first act would be to denounce the Labour leadership as fellow travellers with the Tories who have traduced the aims of the party he founded, and then he would expel those who’ve accepted seats in the House of Lords – starting with the chancer who styles himself the Baron of Cumnock.
For the Labour leadership, the party’s socialist past is precisely that, the past. It is useful as a rallying cry, especially during periods in opposition. The leadership has treated it as an incontinent old relative who has been safely consigned to a care home. Jeremy victory brings it back dribbling all over the expensive rugs that have been paid for on expenses. The magnitude of the Blairite defeat isn’t merely a slap in the face for Tony, who invested so much time and effort in pleading for Anyone But Corbyn without even demanding a speaker’s fee, it’s an almighty punch in the gob that sends him reeling ever closer to The Hague. The result the weapon of mass destruction of the vanities of Blair. At least in the Labour party. Blairism remains alive and kicking in the Tory cabinet.
But as Corbyn’s supporters have pointed out, winning the leadership was the easy bit. The really difficult task has only begun. And it’s starting on a party whose foundations have more cracks than a china shop after a visitation by bulls celebrating a Greek wedding. The Parliamentary Party has received the news of Corbyn’s victory with as much welcome as a papal blessing in an Orange lodge. Already significant numbers of the shadow cabinet and Labour’s front bench have refused to serve in the shadow corbynet. They’re the sort of politicians who believe that it’s not them who are wrong, it’s the voters and if they had their way they’d elect a new electorate. But they are a powerful force ranged against any possibility of serious change within Labour. Whether the party can survive is very much in doubt.
The divisions within Labour contrast with a media which is uniformly hostile. The UK press has even less intention of giving Corbyn a fair hearing than they had of the case for Scottish independence. He’s going to be monstered and misrepresented by mealy mouthed mendacious mediocrities, who’ll claim that their hmms are balanced reporting. Because of course the media is fair and only an anti-democratic wannabe dictator would think of criticising the spawn of Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay twins. Jeremy’s voice will be drowned out while his critics are given free rein.
Faced with all this, there is little realistic chance that Labour will remain united and will make substantial inroads into a voting population which will find itself subject to a fear campaign which will make Project Fear seem like run down ghost train at the end of a pier. It’s going to be relentless and unforgiving. The mildest of proposals will be hysterically blown out of proportion and stripped of context. And it won’t stop. The stakes are too high.
The British establishment could survive the loss of Scotland. Losing Scotland would be a massive blow to their prestige, to their entitlement, to their pockets, but the establishment would still reign over all except the rebellious Scots who refused to be crushed. But the British establishment can’t survive the success of the Corbyn project, he threatens the end to their privilege and preference. That’s precisely why they will conspire to ensure that he fails. Renationalising key industries threatens the bank balances of the rich, scrapping Trident threatens the power hungry dreams of the establishment.
Already the Tories are talking in the language of threats to national security. Because in their world national security is the same as the security of the very rich and the very powerful. The security of the poor and the marginalised is of no account. When the government refers to the main opposition party in such terms, when it describes the opposition in apocalypic terms as an enemy of the state, then democracy is no longer safe.
Scotland watches and waits. If it becomes clear that the British state will not allow the Corbyn project to succeed, if he can’t restore his battered party’s fortunes, then we can only conclude that there is nothing in this state for us. And that’s before we look at what he offers Scotland – a man who has already said that there shouldn’t be another independence referendum and that there should be no further devolution of tax powers. The British state is drifting further away from Scotland with every day and every soundbite from hysterical Tory MPs.
When it becomes apparent that the UK is looking at Tory governments for the foreseeable future, Scotland will not walk to independence, it will run. The Jezzajism is the political earthquake that will shake Scotland loose.
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